Impatiens are one of those old standbys that come in a variety of colors, mostly in whites, magentas and purples. They are grown as an annual, are very sensitive to cold and will be the first flower to die back after any frost.
Impatiens have glossy, medium green leaves. The stems are a herbaceous and fleshy and exhibit rapid grown. They are spreading, rounded and flat topped. They make excellent bedding plants, as well as container plants, but they must be watered daily during hot, dry periods. Don't be surprised if you come home from work and find your potted impatiens completely collapsed. Don't worry. Give them a big drink and they'll pop right back up in a few hours.
Besides their mass of color, one of the biggest attractions of the impatiens is that they flourish in light shade. So if you have a shady area and you love color, try impatiens.
Impatiens also do not require dead-heading as many annual flowers. They just continue to spread and put out new flowers as the season progresses.
Scientific Name: Impatiens wallerana
Impatiens are ranked among the Top 10 most popular annuals in the United States. Each year new varieties are introduced from commercial growers. These varieties typically fall into 3 main category forms:
Dwarf forms: 8" - 10" tall, compact, 12" spacing; many colors; series includes Elfin, Elfin Improved; Elfin Improved bloom earlier and more profusely.
Semi-dwarf forms: 10" - 12" tall, flowers 1" - 2" across; spacing 14", solid and bi colored blooms; series includes Duet, Fantasia, Futura, Minette, Novette, Ripple (star pattern in blooms), Rosette (blooms like a miniature rose), and Twinkle.
Tall forms: 12" - 14" tall, flowers 1½" - 2" across; solid and bicolor's; spacing 18"; series includes Grande, Blitz, Stars and Stripes, Tangelow and Treasure; New Guinea-Indonesian hybrids have leaves with red or yellow markings and variegations, to 24" tall; good for pot culture.
Impatiens flowers grow best in a well-drained soil with plenty of enriched humus. Although With sufficient daily watering, impatiens can be grown in partial sun in zones 4 - 9.
Impatiens pests include mites, aphids, thrips and, white flies. However, these are rarely a problem. Japanese Beetles can be a problem if you experience heavy infestations of this destructive pest.
New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens x hawkeri) are still considered new comers to the world of bedding plants. New Guinea impatiens form compact, succulent sub shrubs with branches growing up to 1' - 2' tall by summer's end. Leaves are long and narrow, green, bronze, or purple. Flowers, growing up to 2" in diameter, are white, pink, lavender, purple, orange, and red.
New Guinea impatiens is a species of the vast genus impatiens, which flower in all colors (except true blue and yellow). The New Guinea impatiens was discovered on a plant hunting expedition to Southeast Asia. The growing habits of impatiens make them ideal low-maintenance plants. Many impatiens varieties were originally stowaways on trading ships from Africa and naturalized in Central and South America.
New improved varieties of New Guinea impatiens have been developed through major breeding programs. Several series on the market today provide gardeners with a wide variety of flower and foliage colors. Although most cultivars are propagated through tip-cuttings, improved seed propagated varieties are on the horizon. 'Tango' and 'Sweet Sue', both orange flowered, are older varieties grown from seed. One of the newest seed propagated New Guinea impatiens is the Spectra series. Plants come in a mixture of flower and foliage colors.
Fertile, moist soil high in organic matter is preferred by New Guinea impatiens. They are more sun-loving than the other impatiens. They will tolerate more sun if their roots are kept moist. Incorporate a slow-release fertilizer into the soil before planting. They should only be planted after the danger of frost has passed and the ground has warmed. New Guinea impatiens also are not fond of cool night temperatures. Space 9" - 15" apart.
New Guinea impatiens have increased in popularity in recent years and, while they are generally easy to produce, many growers have difficulty getting the plants off to a good start. Growers have shown us New Guineas that appear normal but have made little or no growth following planting. Very often in these situations, disease, including tomato spotted wilt virus, and environmental conditions are not the causes of the poor growth. However, frequently the level of soluble salts (results from excessive fertilizer) in the potting medium is higher than we would expect so early in the crop.